Involved or Committed

Bacon & Eggs
photo by Anna Moderska, Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland

I like the following metaphor.

In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved while the pig is committed.

The normal mode in business is to look for people who are committed. Those that get the company logo tattooed on their bodies.

For senior executives, founders and entrepreneurs that is the spirit which drives a company forward.

However is it fair or reasonable to expect that from everyone in the organization?

At the senior executive or board level it is vital that there is someone who has not “drunk the kool-aid”. This person provides vital perspective and challenges the assumptions to avoid group-think.

At the front-line staff level having committed staff is certainly a competitive advantage. The main challenge then is to scale the business with a keen and engaged workforce. The second obstacle is managing attrition or top-grading when staff become disengaged.

Alternatively a business can design its systems to be executed by the average available hire. McDonald’s and American Express do this well. McDonald’s front-line staff are among the most committed in the fast food industry – compare staff at Burger King or KFC. But nobody is kidding them that this is a career. McDonalds managers and above are very committed and engaged. The whole business is executed by 15-19 year-olds.

American Express also chooses the best call center staff they can find. There isĀ  still high employee turnover. But once people in the rest of the business make it past 3 years they are often there for life.

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